|THE IRAQ SITUATION
Will Saddam Hussein comply with the latest agreement?
February 27, 1998
in this forum:
Why are we so concerned with Saddam Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction? Upon what basis of authority does Washington stand in planning a unilateral military attack on any country? Has the U.S. lost its credibility in the region as an honest broker? Will the Arab states support U.S. policies against Saddam in the future? Has the U.N. brokered deal with Iraq resolved the crisis or is it just an interlude to war?
February 23, 1998
Sec. Albright discusses the U.N. brokered deal with Iraq.
February 23, 1998
Four policy experts discusses the latest deal.
February 16, 1998
How significant a threat does Saddam Hussein's country really pose?
February 11, 1998
Ambassador Richardson discusses the ongoing crisis with Iraq.
February 4, 1998
Secretary Albright tries to marshal support for a possible attack on Iraq.
January 14, 1998
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, defends his country's actions.
What's the best way to deal with Iraq?
November 17, 1997
Arab perspectives on the Iraqi crisis.
November 13, 1997
Deputy PM Aziz defends his country's expulsion of U.N. weapons inspectors.
November 3, 1997
U.N. Ambassador Richardson discusses tensions between the U.S. and Iraq.
Online Forum: 1996:
The plight of the Kurds in Northern Iraq.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Middle East.
American Enterprise Institute
Anthony Merhi of New York, NY, asks: Upon what basis of authority does Washington stand in planning a unilateral military attack on any country? Where does Washington find its basis of authority to ruthlessly pursue its material "national" interest?
Mr. John Bolton, senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, responds:
The United States has inherent authority to defend its national interests when they are threatened, including the use of military force in its sole and exclusive discretion.
In the context of Iraq, there is also authority granted by the U.N. Security Council in multiple resolutions over the years, most if not all of which Iraq has repeatedly violated.
Dr. John Calabrese, resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, responds:
As a fellow New Yorker by birth, I share your passion and directness, Anthony. I even tend to agree with aspects of the sentiments that boiled over in your question. When vital interests are at stake, when peaceful means of behavior modification have appeared to fail, and when others who have interests in common nonetheless do not agree that force is the answer to a problem, a country - this country - WILL resort to "self help" if it CAN do so. In other words, if the perceived urgency is there, as well as the political will and military capacity, that's all the "authority" one needs.
When is force "justifiable?" When is its unilateral exercise "warranted?" According to what criteria: legal, moral, political? And by whose standards: the court of international public opinion, the opinions of the U.S. Congress? Your question is packed with a number of intriguing and challenging problems - not just for pundits like me, but for the Clinton foreign policy team!
What of the case for unilateral military strikes against Iraq (which I presume is at the heart of your question)? Morally, in my view, there is NO justication for these attacks, which will almost certainly claim loss of life, including civilian casualties, and further terrorize the Iraqi population that manages to survive.
Politically, the Clinton Administration has no mandate from, and has in fact encountered a groundswell of opposition to, the use of force from other Security Council members (except Britain), not to mention nearly all Arab countries. The American public seems more perplexed than divided about the question of why military strikes are necessary and what they are likely to accomplish. The U.S. Congress, once the cloud of war temporarily dissipated, has reverted to familiar quarrels about "sub-contracting" U.S. interests to the U.N. and partisan grandstanding. Thus, I regard unilateral U.S. military strikes as politically unwise. Why? Because without it, the very policy of "containment" of Iraq might be comprised, and U.S. prestige and influence are likely to suffer in the region and outside it.